Please note I have a new phone number...

512-517-2708

Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...

http://peaceandsocialjustice.blogspot.com/2013/03/a-progressive-program-for-real-change.html


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.


"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Are you fed up? Can we do better?

Are you fed up?

Is there a better way of doing things?

We are in one heck of a mess...

Never-ending wars...

Nearing climate catastrophe...

Every working class family is caught up in a Cost-of-Living Crisis...

Anyone who doesn't believe there is a “Cost-of-Living Crisis” obviously hasn't gone grocery shopping, filled up their car with gas or paid an insurance premium, rent or an electric or utility bill recently or looked at the interest charged on their credit cards.

Poverty amid such great known wealth with soaring prices for goods and services resulting from monopoly price-fixing coupled with inflation fueled by militarism and wars and attacks on our public institutions...

Racism and discrimination...

The problems are endless.

Are you fed up?

Are you thinking: There must be a better way?

Do you feel like Wall Street has spun a powerful web in which you are trapped with no possibility of escape as these Wall Street parasites suck the life out of you?

What holds this deadly Wall Street spun web together? The ingredients forming the powerful glue holding this web together consist of racism, corruption and anti-communism--- each on their own dangerous poisons causing pernicious societal diseases.

Human society needs these Wall Street parasites about as much as dogs need ticks and fleas.

As capitalism collapses around us--- and on top of us like an old, weathered barn on a foreclosed abandoned homestead--- the human misery is never-ending just like the very costly dirty imperialist wars which now come with tremendous death and destruction one right on top of another even though most of us want peace.

The corporate bribed and corrupted politicians use the Minimum Wage as a lever of government to keep wages down as a means to enforce poverty. By keeping wages down they are doing a favor in return for the bribes they receive from business--- large businesses and small businesses. Businesses, large and small, reap huge super-profits from these low poverty wages.

Let's be clear about this: Any wage that doesn't enable a working class family to purchase the goods and services required for a decent life is a poverty wage. Working people have a right to expect a decent life and standard-of-living in return for their labor.

These politicians always claim a small “increase in the Minimum Wage is better than nothing” as they substantially increase their own pay while ignoring, and doing nothing about, rising prices in the grocery store, the robbery at the gas pumps, the rip-off of steadily increasing electric and heating bills, college tuition out of sight, increased rents and bus fares, unaffordable health/home/automobile insurance costs.

Any government which can control wages through enforcing a poverty Minimum Wage could just as easily control prices at affordable levels. The corporate bribed politicians choose not to control prices of goods and services claiming they are for allowing the “free market” to determine all costs except labor costs. Very conveniently, these politicians always claim their “hands are tied” when it comes to legislating for the common good.

How come these politicians can keep wages down but they can't roll-back and control the prices of any goods or services, the basic necessities of life, we have to purchase in order to live? Can you live on a part-time job paying $9.50 an hour?

It is the epitome of hypocrisy--- not to mention sickening--- for a billionaire Minnesota Governor like Mark Dayton to tout $9.50 an hour as a wage that will lift working class families out of poverty when his wealth has been derived almost exclusively from paying workers poverty wages.

Politicians like Obama and Dayton talk about, “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs,” yet unemployment continues with no end in sight. Where are the jobs these politicians talk about?

The climate crisis continues; putting us on a collision course with Mother Nature. Again, like with wages, these politicians legislate ever bigger carbon footprints not to mention that the industry with the largest carbon footprint in the entire world is the U.S military-industrial complex.

We working people and the environment suffer as Wall Street profits. It just isn't right.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out something is wrong. It doesn't have to be this way.

Minnesota's two socialist governors, Floyd B. Olson and Elmer A. Benson, sought to bring people together to pull for reforms as they simultaneously sought to build the socialist Cooperative Commonwealth here in Minnesota--- this was a good idea back then in the 1930's... and its an even better idea now.

In one of his last interviews before he died, Elmer Benson said his worst political mistake was to support the merger of the socialist Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party with the corrupt and racist Democratic Party thinking the influx of socialist thinking would create a Democratic Party that would become a huge people's party. Things didn't turn out this way and working class socialist thinking was driven out of the Democratic Party.

Benson advocated re-establishing a working class based progressive socialist party for peace, social and economic justice and he advocated re-establishing the “People's Lobby” which he founded to overcome the interests of big-business in Minnesota politics.

As Benson noted: Working people have been abandoned by the Democratic Party, millionaire labor “leaders” and these foundation-funded outfits who hide their Wall Street agendas behind cleverly conceived schemes concocted to hoodwink us into thinking capitalism is alright, it just needs to be tweaked with reforms. As Benson said, “This is pure bullshit; the capitalist system is the source of our problems.”

Well, guess what?

These self-serving, selfish and corrupt politicians bribed by Wall Street won't even provide us with the kind of real reform that would raise the Minimum Wage to a real living wage in line with the actual cost-of-living factors.

How the heck can we expect these over-paid politicians and millionaire union “leaders” who have no concept of the “Cost-of-Living Crisis” working class families are experiencing to address this problem?

Then there are the well-heeled, muddle-headed, upper-middle class “intellectuals” sitting in the ivory towers of the universities where they are shielded from the problems of everyday living working class families are experiencing. They speak for this or that “think tank” serving as media “pundits” to explain our problems to us. All they do is create more confusion, instead of providing clarity. Their intent is to undermine common sense and clear thinking.

We live in the richest country in the world where labor has created all the wealth which Wall Street hordes.

Working people who horde a few canned goods are diagnosed as being mentally ill; but greedy Wall Street “investors” can horde the entire wealth of the Nation and they are running the show.

Much of the wealth labor has created is being squandered on war after war; the rest is controlled by Wall Street which refuses to relinquish its hold. This wealth is required to finance real reforms needed to improve our lives, our quality of life and our standard-of-living.

Instead of investing in reforms which would create jobs, Wall Street invests this money in low-wage areas of the world which destroys our jobs.

We witnessed how this works.

The St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant once employing over two-thousand lays in rubble; a new Ranger assembly plant was built in Thailand. The Trans-Pacific Partnership will enable Ford to import these Ranger pick-up trucks back into the United States. Quite the racket. Wall Street profits; workers suffer.

When workers in Thailand kick about the poverty wages paid by Ford the U.S. Marines will be sent in.

There is never enough money for needed reforms; the wealth Wall Street doesn't horde goes for wars protecting Wall Street's interests, investments and profits. For Wall Street, nothing is more profitable than wars.

We need to challenge Wall Street for political and economic power if we are ever going to straighten out this mess we are in. As Floyd Olson and Elmer Benson noted: Wall Street is our enemy.

Anyone who thinks Wall Street and its politicians can be appealed to for justice is living in La-La Land.

Justice, whether for jobs at living wages or real health care reform, requires a united struggle.

We need to fight to defend our livelihoods and our rights.

The working class needs genuine grassroots and rank-and-file think tanks and action centers in every neighborhood and every place of employment geared to solving our problems through reforms and socialist revolution...

What can't be won at the bargaining table we should be looking to win through legislation.

Let's not kid ourselves... it takes a fight to win.

We need a new kind of politics based on the thinking of the old socialist Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party---

Let's talk about the politics and economics of livelihood for a change.

Working class families have to scrape and scrounge just to get by; it shouldn't be this way. This has a name: Cost-of-Living Crisis. You won't find any Democrats or Republicans talking about this crisis.

Politicians pretend the causes of poverty are complex. Why is it so difficult to figure out that workers without jobs are going to be poor?

Why is it so difficult to figure out that workers paid poverty wages are going to be poor?

Why is it so difficult to figure out that workers employed in part-time jobs paying poverty wages are going to be poor?

There is a better way.

We don't have to live this way.

We don't have to take this crap from Wall Street and their crooked and corrupt politicians.

Like Floyd Olson and Elmer Benson said, “The mines, mills, factories, banking, the forestry and energy industries should be brought under public ownership.” This was the intent of establishing the socialist Cooperative Commonwealth here in Minnesota. A good idea then; a better idea now.

Many of the solutions are very simple; just plain old common sense:

- Pay people real living wages. Raise the Minimum Wage to a real living wage tied to all cost-of-living factors.

- Make the president and Congress responsible for attaining and maintaining full employment--- this isn't too much to expect from politicians who talk about “jobs, jobs, jobs.”

- Provide everyone with a Basic Income Guarantee.

- Put an end to this undemocratic “At-Will Employment” so workers have a voice at work and in the communities where they live without the fear of employer retaliation.

- Put an end to militarism and these dirty wars; use the wealth of our Nation created by labor to create a national public health care system and a national public child care system which would create millions of new jobs at real living wages providing people with the services they need and to which they are entitled.

Instead of 800 U.S. Military bases spread out across the globe protecting Wall Street's investments, assets and profits we need community and neighborhood health care and child care centers in every community and neighborhood.

This isn't a radical idea. These universal social programs would be publicly funded, publicly administered with the services publicly delivered--- just like public education.

Join with us.

Add your voice in support of common sense solutions to our problems.

Minnesotans for a Better Way

If you are fed up, join with us in seeking real solutions to our problems... there is a better way; we all know it.

What we need are citizen activists popping up like dandelions after a warm spring rain.

We need to be thinking in terms of people and Mother Nature before Wall Street profits.

The two-party system is part of Wall Street's web; part of the web spun to keep us trapped--- the two-party trap. Both the Democrats and Republicans serve Wall Street's greedy profit-driven interests.

We would like to convene a state-wide conference of Minnesotans for a Better Way...

To help cover the costs of pulling together this conference, stick one dollar (more if you can afford it) in an envelope and send it to:

Minnesotans for a Better Way
58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763

For further information, call:
651-587-5541

Gather a few friends around your kitchen table... invite a speaker... get involved as a citizen activist.

Canadian workers have their own political party; the socialist New Democratic Party which is pretty much like our old socialist Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party which was led by Minnesota governors Floyd B. Olson and Elmer A. Benson. Even though Canadians working through their New Democratic Party are on the verge of taking national political power away from Bay Street, their counterpart to Wall Street, we aren't hearing much about this from our so-called “free” media.

For years, the New Democratic Party has been the party in power in Manitoba, our neighbor to the north and working class families are the better off for it.

Like each little individual raindrop we don't amount to much trying to stand up alone to the evil powers that be; but, together, united, we are like Old Man River, the Mighty Mississippi--- we can't be stopped... we will just keep rolling along.

Our first project will be to work up a plan to develop support for a comprehensive legislative initiative for peace, jobs and workers' rights:

A 21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity.”

A couple closing comments and observations:

Barack Obama's presidency has caused a great deal of confusion with some people still holding out hope that he will prevail in doing good. Had Obama had any decency about him he would have ended these wars, halted the executions by drones and put an immediate stop to home foreclosures and evictions.

And here in Minnesota, this billionaire governor who promised a Minimum Wage that would be a real living wage while declaring no one who works for a living should have to live in poverty would have made good on his campaign promise--- no one can live on $9.50 an hour; it is one more poverty wage... and it won't go into effect until 2016 when any “gain” will have been more than eaten up by price increases and inflation.

Most people have already noted that each succeeding president and the rest of the politicians are worse than the other. This is because their mandate which comes from Wall Street, instead of “we, the people,” places them in positions of trying to save a capitalist system in a serious state of decay which has reached its highest and most moribund stage of imperialism in which huge Wall Street monopolies order the politicians to provide the “technicians,” government bureaucrats, who are placed in positions of authority to run the government as they see fit, irrespective of any human misery they cause--- “collateral damage,” who are trying to save capitalism from complete collapse.

One of the major problems we are experiencing is too many people have bought into the idea that there is no class struggle any longer which has led people to conclude the Democratic Party and the Democrats and their “partners,” the foundation funded outfits and millionaire labor “leaders” who buy into this idea that other countries are our enemies instead of business, multinational corporations and the Wall Street backed political parties.

It is true there are some working class activists, progressives and honest liberals still active in the Democratic Party we must not beak our connections off with but these people are becoming fewer and further between as so many people in this country now recognize the two-party system is a trap established by Wall Street.

This problem was recently brought into full view at a rally on Minnesota's Iron Range where Minnesota's billionaire Democratic Governor was the featured speaker “defining” the problems confronting the taconite industry and members of the United Steelworkers in particular.

Here is what Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton said in his widely publicized speech widely viewed as the opening of his re-election campaign...

The story of the Iron Range is one of standing strong against exploitation and oppression, and too often of a government that will not stand with them,” Dayton said to a cheering crowd of 1,500 iron miners. “Today’s enemies are not the companies, but the countries that dump their steel in the U.S. market, depress the prices and take away your jobs.”

Regional leaders of the United Steelworkers and leaders of the Democratic Party helped Dayton write this speech and it has been confirmed that USW President Leo Girard had his hand in this speech.

Does any thinking person really believe that foreign countries should be viewed as our enemies for “dumping steel” in this country when all these “foreign” companies are more often than not owned in whole or in part by Wall Street investors and the parasites on Canada's Bay Street along with those parasitic vultures hiding behind the monikers as investors and even “philanthropists?”

In fact, Dayton and his family have huge financial holdings in these “foreign” steel companies and his major funding has come from none other than the Rockefeller family which has huge holdings in foreign mining and steel manufacturing all over the world who are directly profiting from this “dumping” and it is the U.S. construction companies who are happy to be able to purchase this “foreign” steel from which they make super-profits--- often selling this steel to our government at sharply inflated rates for bridge work, pipe projects, etc.

And consider this:

If these countries are engaged in “criminal” activity as the USW and these Democrats are claiming, how should we be characterizing the brutal exploitation of workers be used to rape Mother Nature in the process of mining, milling and manufacturing this steel in the first place--- are we not talking about what is the very nature of U.S. Imperialism?

Don't we need an anti-imperialist movement in solidarity with the workers and people's of these other countries whom Minnesota's Governor, the Democratic Party hacks and millionaire labor “leaders” want us to view as our enemies as they let the Daytons and Rockefellers--- Wall Street and Bay Street--- off the hook?

Is there any truth to Dayton's words that these companies like U.S. Steel and Cliff's Natural Resources (Cleveland Cliff) no longer are oppressing and exploiting workers on the Iron Range? How soon we forget that these companies were prepared to bring in an army of scabs just a few short years ago to work the mines and process the taconite had the USW gone on strike for what workers were legitimately entitled to rather than having had concessions shoved down their throats by these same Democrats and millionaire labor “leaders” working hand-in-hand with these Wall Street companies.

And never mentioned by Dayton or these millionaire labor “leaders” is the fact that these mining companies on Minnesota's Iron Range have swindled thousands of workers in the mining industry out of their pensions. It is not China, Brazil or any other country which has swindled these miners out of their pensions it is the very companies on the Iron Range who Dayton now makes the outrageous claim these companies no longer exploit or oppress.

One can not help but wonder what kind of speech Minnesota's socialist governors, Floyd Olson and Elmer Benson, would have delivered at such a rally on Minnesota's Iron Range from which Communist U.S. Congressman John Bernard from Eveleth, Minnesota and the Iron Range organizer for the socialist Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party.

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton's speech, in spite of his claim to being a big “liberal,” was just one more neo-liberal imperialist speech from one more Wall Street profiteer.

Do we simply ignore all of this because to talk about these facts will give the Republicans a lift up as the Democratic Party hacks claim?

Working people need to analyze what is going on in this country and around the world from a working class anti-imperialist perspective lest the sons and daughters of the working class continue to serve as fodder in these dirty imperialist wars and our Nation's wealth continues to be squandered on militarism and war after war.

It is also noteworthy to mention that over 40% of all the ore mined and processed and manufactured into steel and then fabricated has gone into militarism and wars--- this has left one hell of a carbon footprint contributing to global warming.

Nor did Governor Dayton talk about the need to reduce the work week with forty hours pay, shorten retirement and extend vacations in this taconite industry on Minnesota's Iron Range so that more jobs could be created in this very economically depressed region now being called Appalachia North.

Nor was the need to reorder the priorities of this country away from war and military spending to meet human needs broached in Governor Dayton's speech. Why not? This would create thousands of good paying decent jobs on the Iron Range.

And how is it that Governor Dayton didn't mention the need to organize the big-box industries on the Iron Range--- Wal-mart, Menard's, Target, McDonald's, Burger King? Are not these companies employing thousands of Iron Rangers at part-time jobs paying poverty wages “exploiting” and “oppressing” workers on the Iron Range?

And why no mention of Minnesota remaining an “At-Will Employment State in spite of Governor Dayton presiding over a Democratic super-majority state government?

Dayton did not so much as mention his role in putting over 40,000 Minnesotans to work in loud, noisy, smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages in places of employment where workers have no voice and no rights--- workers without rights at work have no rights in the communities where they live, either. Apparently this Democratic governor loathes speaking about U.S. democracy and the state of democracy here in Minnesota where employers are allowed to lock out workers and bring in scabs.

Again, no one is suggesting we sever ties with working class activists, progressives and real liberals still active in the Democratic Party but remaining silent in the face of this kind of Wall Street imperialist chauvinism and jingoism of blaming other countries for the problems working people here are experiencing when these Wall Street corporations are our common enemy because they exploit and oppress here and abroad is definitely not acceptable.

Governor Dayton's speech on the Iron Range is a far cry from the speeches workers used to hear at Mesaba Cooperative Park where fiery anti-imperialist speeches advocating for building Minnesota's socialist Cooperative Commonwealth were once delivered.
We can do better.

We must do better.

I think of these things often as I visit the graves of my Grandpa and Grandma and the other working class activists buried in that little cemetery in Gilbert, Minnesota who understood that these Wall Street mining companies are our enemies--- our forever enemies.

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton didn't deliver the class struggle kind of speech required for an Iron Range audience where socialists and Communists still out-number Republicans--- who will say what needs to be said?

Of course, we need to consider that the speech Mark Dayton delivered comes from a billionaire whose fortune is derived from poverty wages and who has the unmitigated gall to suggest working class families should be forced to survive on the miserly $9.50 an hour Minimum Wage being delivered incrementally on an installment plan as working class families are forced to endure a Cost-of-Living Crisis he and the Democrats refuse to address as they launch into one more campaign using the rhetoric of "jobs, jobs, jobs"--- more poverty wage jobs from which these companies who no longer exploit and oppress will reap super-profits. 

Alan L. Maki

A proud “Red” Finn

Thursday, June 12, 2014

More questions about the Minimum Wage.

The highest legislated Minimum Wage right now here in the United States is $10.25 an hour. This is the present Minimum Wage on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation. Because of pressure on the part of the people it has been steadily increasing.

Why is everyone talking about a $15.00 Minimum Wage in Seattle when most workers won't receive it for seven years... and other workers will have to wait at least three years.

In Michigan they talk about a Minimum Wage raise to $9.25 an hour... this will take place in four years.

In Minnesota they talk about the Minimum Wage having been raised to $9.50 an hour even though that won't kick in for another three years.

Workers, including hundreds of casino workers, employed on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation are receiving $10.25 an hour right now and no one wants to acknowledge this since the politicians can't reap political benefit from talking about this. In fact, Leech Lakes Minimum Wage makes all these politicians look like a bunch of self-serving opportunists just out to use the victims of poverty in order to get votes.

Why aren't any unions or their foundation-funded think-tanks like the Economic Policy Institute demanding the Minimum Wage be raised nationally to match Leech Lake's Minimum Wage?

Leech Lake's Minimum Wage is still a paltry, miserly pathetic poverty Minimum Wage--- but, it is still the highest Minimum Wage in the country... and, at least it could be emulated rather than ignored... especially by all those who so enthusiastically support these Minimum Wage "increases" that won't even take effect until after inflation and soaring prices eat up these "increases" which will make these "increases" substantially less than the accumulated wages workers employed on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation have accumulated in the meantime boosting their real spending power, today, far in excess of what these phony Minimum Wage "increases" will produce in the future once they take effect.

Of course, those who don't understand the relationship between wages and cost-of-living nor have any concern, other than opportunist political expediency or so well-heeled they can purchase any goods or services without thinking, will never understand this just like they don't understand every single working class family is experiencing a "Cost-of-Living Crisis" making every single day a crisis-of-everyday living as people scrape, scrounge and curtail their lives in order to get by.

Few people involved in this struggle over the question of the Minimum Wage can say they haven't heard of Leech Lake's $10.25 Minimum Wage--- which, in addition to being the highest Minimum Wage in the United States is also the largest pay increase any workers in the United States have received; and, it is one of the higher starting wages in the United States.

In addition, this $10.25 Minimum Wage is higher than many workers get out of union contracts for which they are paying exorbitant union dues to pay the salaries of millionaire labor "leaders" who are no better than the bosses.

This unfounded infatuation with 15 Now, the Democrats, the AFL-CIO and these foundation-funded outfits like the "liberal" Economic Policy Institute and the "progressive" Campaign for America's Future "leading" these "movements" for Minimum Wage "increases" claiming "something is better than nothing" after previously declaring they intended to struggle for real living wages because, as they stated, "No one who works for a living should have to live in poverty," are dishonest in continuing not to note the Leech Lake Minimum Wage of $10.25 an hour which increases the purchasing power of workers right here and now as millions of workers are losing purchasing power and sinking further into the abyss of poverty as businesses--- large and small--- continue reaping massive super-profits from these poverty wages.

Someone should try to calculate just how many hundreds of millions of hours are being worked by workers receiving between $5.25 and $10.25 an hour. The figure is sheer super-profit.

How can a very poor poverty stricken Indian Reservation like the Leech Lake Indian Nation pay its employees, including hundreds of casino workers a Minimum Wage of $10.25 an hour but other cities, states, the federal government and corporations wallowing in record profits claim they can't pay the workers they employ a miserly, measly Minimum Wage of $10.25 an hour lest they go broke? Someone answer this question.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Why no discussion about the relationship between wages and cost-of-living?

Once again, the AFL-CIO and their think-tank, the Economic Policy Institute, are "leading" the struggle to increase wages.

Read all about it here--- it all sounds so good:

http://www.aflcio.org/Blog/Economy/EPI-Maps-Out-Plan-to-Raise-America-s-Wages

Until you read the "study" that will provide the support for this "campaign" to raise wages:

http://www.epi.org/publication/raising-americas-pay/

Initiating a struggle to raise wages sounds real good.

BUT...

How does the AFL-CIO explain how it is that they could hire a liberal think-tank to draft a 76 page document backing up their "campaign" to raise wages and the study does not so much as mention "cost-of-living" in relation to wages?

This is a good study hitting on a lot of important issues including pointing out that wages have not kept pace with the rapid rise in productivity; but, when mapping out a "campaign" to raise wages one has to wonder how it can be that the relationship between wages and "cost-of-living" is completely ignored.

This "campaign" and this "study" backing this "campaign" are what working people get when millionaire labor "leaders" and over-paid, well-heeled, muddle-headed, upper-middle class intellectuals get together to do the thinking for working people.

It is relatively easy to predict what this "campaign" will lead to--- not the kind of united, militant, mass working class struggle required to win real living wages; but, support for these worthless Dumb Donkeys who talk about how no worker should have to work for less than real living wages with their families mired in poverty as standard campaign rhetoric that fits in well with their hypocritical talk about "jobs, jobs, jobs" for stump speeches to get votes but once elected they turn around and legislate a Minimum Wage "increase" that is just one more poverty wage when what is required is to legislatively tie the Minimum Wage to all cost-of-living factors and provide legislation making full-employment the mandatory responsibility of the president and Congress.

But, one has to wonder how it can be that such a study intended to provide the backing of a campaign to raise wages does not so much as mention "cost-of-living" nor the all-important relationship between wages and cost-of-living--- what workers can purchase with their wages which comprises, together with benefits and universal social programs, that which determines what kind of "standard-of-living" working people will have.

There are several other interesting aspects as far as what this "study" leaves out.

First, taking their cue from all the other racist think-tanks, the plight of Native American Indians is completely ignored in spite of the fact that over 95% of Native American Indians are working class and the poorest of the poor. How can any "campaign" to raise wages move forward by ignoring the plight of a people who are the primary victims of everything wrong in our country?

Second, this study fails to use the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a guide to action even though organized labor "celebrates" its anniversary once a year and upholds it during these once a year celebrations as the primary document upon which we should judge whether or not the government and economy work for working people.

In fact, this "campaign," just like the "study" backing it, lacks specifics based on what needs to be done to win real living wages here in the United States...

First and foremost in any struggle to win real living wages it must be noted that central to this struggle is addressing the relationship between wages and cost-of-living which determines the standard-of-living and quality-of-life workers, working class families and the entire working class will have.

Call the Economic Policy Institute and ask them how it can be that they have created a "study" that is central to a "campaign" that will take up the task to raise wages without so much as one single mention of "cost-of-living" and the all-important relationship between wages and cost-of-living?

Here is the EPI phone number: 202-775-8810

One more superficial campaign backed by a superficial study.

Grassroots and rank-and-file activists need to organize their own think-tanks which will provide the backing for a new working class based progressive people's party which will be an integral part of the struggles in the workplaces, in the streets and in working class communities.

We can't win a raise through press conferences announcing these kinds of liberal studies omitting the relationship between wages and cost-of-living which must become our primary focus.

How can any study purporting to be the intellectual backing for a working class campaign to raise wages and the Minimum Wage to real living wages completely ignore the "Cost-of-Living Crisis" every single working class family in the United States and across the world is experiencing?

Do these labor "leaders" and the "intellectuals" they hire have no understanding of the crisis of everyday living working class families are caught up in? A crisis from which Wall Street reaps huge profits.

Do these labor "leaders" and the over-paid "intellectuals" they hire to create these kinds of superficial studies not understand that poverty is a state of not being able to attain the necessities required for a decent life which should be the result of "working for a living?"

If this is your idea of a "campaign" to "raise wages" be prepared to live in the abyss of poverty for the rest of your life and to saddle future generations to living in even worse poverty.

We are being pushed into a national discussion leading up to the upcoming elections where a superficial and meaningless form of "economic populism" is being passed off as the framework for curing what ails our country; an "economic populism" that provides no specific programs required to resolve our problems and an "economic populism" which tries to omit the adverse impact of imperialist militarism and wars on our lives.

Why would any study note the high levels of productivity that have been achieved by the U.S. working class and then fail to advocate for a real living wage based on all cost-of-living factors? This doesn't even make any sense if they are sincere about improving the lives and livelihoods of working people as they lay claim to--- unless they aren't sincere and are only using us and our problems in order to get a bunch of worthless Democrats elected. This wouldn't be the first time this has happened.

For further discussion of these issues check out:

http://unitingpeopleworks4us.blogspot.com/2013/08/prosperity-economics-building-economy_8490.html

Monday, June 9, 2014

CounterPunch provides a feeble analysis of the struggle for $15.00 in Seattle.

What kind of "analysis" do you call this?

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/06/06/anatomy-of-a-minimum-wage-victory/

There is no objectivity at all in this "analysis."

Not one single word here about the failure to link the struggle for a higher Minimum Wage to cost-of-living factors nor any mention of the failure to bring forward the fact that every single working class family is experiencing a "Cost-of-Living Crisis."

The struggle for an increased Minimum Wage is not a struggle over a "number;" the struggle is for a living wage based on what goods and services working people can purchase with their wages.

Socialist Alternative and 15 Now were sucked into the exact same fold of class collaboration as the labor "leaders" they claim to despise who can't win increased wages because they fail to note actual cost-of-living factors.

In fact, Socialist Alternative and 15 Now failed to note that many, if not most, union contracts provide for wages of less than $15.00 an hour.

It is highly unlikely any union with contracts of less than $15.00 an hour is going to support a movement for the Minimum Wage to be a real living wage based on all cost-of-living factors unless the union is prepared to recognize that workers can win an improved standard-of-living through mass class struggle which they can't win at the bargaining table--- check out the millionaire members of the AFL-CIO's Executive Council and see how many of these labor "leaders" would be willing to put the resources of their unions into the kind of mass struggle that would be required to win a real living Minimum Wage. Also check out the number of contracts each of these unions have that provide wages less than $15.00 an hour.

Even the UAW has a three tiered contract with workers on the low end of the wage scale getting $14.00 an hour. 

The struggle over the Minimum Wage has to be related to actual cost-of-living and the increase in the Minimum Wage has to come now not years later when the amount will have no relationship to cost-of-living in terms of today's living standards.

To put this in perspective we only need to ask one question: Would any union negotiate a contract in terms of today's living standards only to have the contract go into effect two, four or ten years from now with the terms of the negotiated wages remaining the same at the time of implementation of the contract?

Why then would we call $15.00 a victory when it is at best borderline poverty today when we all know workers will be able to purchase even less at the time of implementation years from now than what they can purchase with $15.00 today? This makes no sense at all.

And, once again, the lowest paid workers will have to wait the longest for an increase in their pay!

​The​ solution to the Minimum Wage issue is very simple but would face massive opposition from the Wall Street crowd, which includes their Democratic and Republican parties--- the two-party trap the working class is caught up in--- and the Democrats' coalition partners, the foundation-funded outfits as well as the millionaire labor "leaders" who have shoved concession contract and poverty wages down the throats of their own members with no relationship to actual cost-of-living, the "Cost-of-Living Crisis" for working class families nor soaring corporate profits--- the wealth created largely by poverty-waged workers all with no regard for the standard-of-living and quality-of-life for the working class.

Socialist Alternative and $15 Now may consider this a "victory;" but, what this provides in terms of an improved standard-of-living for working class families says otherwise.

​This "victory" does not improve the standard-of-living for impoverished workers and their families right now; and, it won't provide a higher standard-of-living along with an improved quality of life at the time of implementation over what workers and their families are experiencing now.

The one and only way to address the problems with the Minimum Wage is to legislatively tie the Minimum Wage to all cost-of-living factors in the eight categories each with two-hundred sub-categories used by the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, then index this to inflation with a periodic increase in the Minimum Wage to provide an improvement in the standard-of-living which would begin to provide a decent quality-of-life befitting a working class creating such enormous wealth now being hoarded by the Wall Street crowd.

And, with millions of workers unemployed and millions more forced into part-time employment we need to be discussing solutions to the Minimum Wage question along with the need for full employment and a Basic Income Guarantee.​

This requires some kind of broadening of the New Deal to reflect economic realities of the present.

All of this should become part of an economic package that could be included in some kind of "21st Century Full-Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" since it will be pretty much impossible to create the millions of jobs required paying real living wages as long as these dirty wars and militarism consumes so much of our national wealth.

Like with health care reform, we can't expect reform to be initiated by Wall Street's Democratic Party--- working people need a party of our own--- a progressive working class-based people's party to take up this struggle.

Democrats and their foundation-funded think-tank outfits and millionaire labor leader allies are simply not capable of thinking outside the capitalist box as is required if we are serious about real economic reforms intended--- not for political expediency--- but to improve the lives of working people... our entire working class.

For instance:

We could solve many of our economic problems which have resulted in deep-seated social problems simply by putting millions of people to work filling potholes in our roads and highways, creating a National Public Health Care System which would provide the American people with free health care at hundreds of community and neighborhood health care centers which would create some twelve to 15,000,000 new jobs, a National Public Child Care System which would provide free child care and create well over three-million new jobs--- all for a lot less than these present dirty imperialist wars and this insane militarism is costing us... and, with such a people before profits and wars approach to the economy and government we could start closing down the prisons instead of our public schools.

The insanity of Wall Street's agenda has to end.

We need to challenge Wall Street for political and economic power and the struggle for a real living Minimum Wage is a good place to begin... but, the struggle for a real living wage needs to be developed taking into account the relationship between wages and cost-of-living.

Democrats and the well-heeled muddle-headed middle class intellectuals and millionaire labor leaders who are trying to perpetuate the hoax that it is possible to talk about some kind of "economic populism" without confronting militarism and wars are not going to initiate or lead these required struggles--- the leadership is going to have to come from the grassroots and rank-and-file movements of which there are far too few and this is not going to change until leftists begin to think very publicly outside the capitalist box. Without hesitation, and without fear, we need to place our socialist ideas in the public square but these ideas need to be based on real facts and figures not numbers pulled from a hat which provide our Wall Street enemies the opportunity to derail our movements.

Check out what is being passed off as an "analysis" of what has gone down in Seattle... (anyone seen the actual legislation?)

This is a very feeble analysis--- at best. With an "analysis" like this one below, it is going to be difficult for working people to win anything: 


Seattle Approves $15 an Hour
Anatomy of a Minimum Wage Victory

CounterPunch.org - Tom BARNARD - June 6-8, 2014

On June 2, 2014, Seattle made history by being the first city in the country to pass legislation to raise the minimum wage for workers to $15 an hour.

Anyone predicting such a result two years ago would have been branded as hopelessly naive at best. Yet though the vote was taken by the City Council, the credit for such a victory belongs largely to two unlikely forces operating in tandem in the organization known as $15 Now. The first was a genuine socialist organization, Socialist Alternative, who had already managed the politically unthinkable feat of electing a City Council member, Kshama Sawant. The second force were the people of Seattle themselves, from which sprang hundreds of activists willing to go to demonstrations and rallies, pass out leaflets, collect signatures for ballot measures, pack public hearings and attend City Council meetings, where they forcefully stated their demands and denounced each effort of the politicians to weaken the original proposal.

For the first time in recent history, the initiative for a significant reform came from and remained with the people, despite all attempts by the corporate sector and their political allies to defeat it or render it harmless, and deaden the ferment behind it. That is a history which deserves a second look, for its success may be a preview of future struggles to come, in Seattle and across the country.

The hallmark of a real mass struggle fought to a conclusion is that everyone eventually reveals their true nature. The initial phase of the struggle may seem murky, with some forces out in front while others keep their cards close to their chests. But the inevitable sharpening of the struggle compels the forces that represent the various classes to show who they stand for and with. In producing an anatomy of this struggle, it’s useful to look at the roles of six political actors: newly-elected Mayor Ed Murray, the big business sector, the small business community, the Seattle King County Labor Council that represents the large unions, the Seattle City Council, and $15 Now itself.

Mayor Murray: Voted into office in 2013, in the same election that swept socialist Kshama Sawant to a City Council seat on the promise of a $15 an hour minimum wage, the Mayor was presented with an immediate problem. On the one hand, Sawant had so successfully channeled the mass motion around a $15 minimum wage in her campaign, both Murray and his opponent had to make enacting it one of their campaign planks. The $15 an hour SeaTac ballot initiative, the strikes by fast food workers in different cities, the rallies here for the measure, and the election of Sawant herself made that unavoidable. At the same time, the business community that supported Murray had absolutely no desire to enact any wage raise, let alone one that significant, if for no other reason that it came from a socialist and her working class supporters. What Murray needed was to create something that looked like $15 an hour but wasn’t, that would simultaneously mollify the business community, keep labor from uniting with Sawant, keep an initiative of any kind off the ballot, and isolate both Sawant’s forces and the more conservative members of the business coalition. A tall order indeed.

To do that, Murray needed a coalition he could present as representing the city as a whole, that he could both use as a smokescreen to weaken the measure and hopefully steal the motion away from $15 Now and its allies. The Mayor’s Income Inequality Advisory Committee was that tool – composed largely of the city’s corporate sector like Howard Wright III, owner of a Seattle’s largest hospitality corporation and the iconic Space Needle. It also had a sprinkling of small business owners, union officials, and, unavoidably, Sawant herself. Meeting outside the view of the public, it went as far as it could in weakening the measure without destroying the coalition itself by impelling the unions to bolt. A tip credit was put in, compensation for health insurance and other benefits was listed as part of the wage, a long multi-year phase-ins depending on the size of the business, with small businesses, defined as under 500 workers, were given the longest. When the IIAC finally announced its deal, the union members and the liberals were supportive, claiming the best deal was won, and demanding the deal be voted on by Seattle City Council exactly as it was. But though the Mayor was lauded for having driven the Committee to a deal, Councilperson Sawant denounced the corporate loopholes, and threatened to go to the ballot with the $15 Now plan – one without corporate loopholes. But more on that later.

Big Business: Early on, the major voices in the business community decided it was wise to present themselves as willing to compromise and only be interested in the fate of small businesses. Some truly surreal moments occurred, one being the CEO of Starbucks explaining that he could certainly pay his workers $15 an hour, but was “worried by the effect on small businesses” – this from a corporation responsible for mowing down more local coffeehouses and Mom and Pop eateries across the country, let alone in Seattle. Nonetheless, this argument was seized on by media to whip up opposition by small business owners, which in turn gave the politicians easy excuses to weaken the legislation, all the while allowing big business to hide their own opposition, and pretend to compromise on a deal through the Mayor’s Committee.

Yet once the “deal” was announced at a Seattle City Council meeting, it became obvious to everyone that there was in fact no deal, and that the exercise was just the opening move for corporate Seattle. As far as they were concerned, there wouldn’t be a measure until they got plenty of chances to lobby their friends on the Council in their time-honored fashion to try and weaken it still further. And a section of them formed their own group called “One Seattle”, promising to run their own initiative.

Small business: Whipped up to a panic by large business, various well-known restaurant owners like Tom Douglas and Dave Meinert insisted that this measure was the end of Western civilization, and that tumbleweeds would roll through the streets of Seattle if it were enacted. Even after being granted a seven-year phase in, a temporary credit for tips and benefits, Douglas was still darkly predicting it would cause 25% of all restaurants in Seattle to fail. Of course, since the majority of restaurants fail to last more than five years anyhow, this was a fairly safe bet.

What the hysteria did create was a screen for pro-business politicians and others to hide behind while they did their best to weaken the measure. There are of course small businesses that would be threatened eventually – those whose slender profit margins only existed in the first place by paying their workers the absolute minimum wage to begin with. Sawant’s response to that was to create a three-year phase in for any business under 250 workers, and ask the City Council to find ways to subsidize the costs through taxation on large businesses. The only response was to extend the phase in to any business under 500 workers. Her other proposals were met with deafening silence.

Labor and the “$15 for Seattle” coalition: The best way to achieve the goal of $15 an hour would be to create a strong enough movement to get a $15/hr. initiative on the ballot in 2014. Either such a measure would pass, or threat of one would force the politicians to enact something roughly as strong on their own. But the forces that make up the labor leadership in Seattle simply couldn’t go there. Tied by a thousand threads to the Democratic Party leaders in Seattle and beyond, incubated in the tradition of negotiation and not confrontation, and more or less allergic to movement-based politics, the labor leaders that make up the Seattle-King County Labor Council decided to take a different tack. They formed a coalition of themselves and labor-based community groups – known as $15 for Seattle.

Represented in the Mayor’s advisory committee, with friends on the City Council, they would issue statements, take positions, negotiate through back channels, stage the occasional small action for the press, but they would not call out their troops for a real fight. Some unions, particularly David Rolff of the SEIU was openly hostile to the idea of a ballot initiative. Others counseled endless patience, and to wait and see what the Mayor’s committee would come up with. Though initially willing to consult with $15 Now, and even have it as part of their coalition, once it became clear that a ballot initiative by $15 Now was a real possibility, they simply asked them to leave. The result was to weaken the overall movement, promote a weakened measure as a great deal, and then to howl in useless outrage when the City Council weakened it still further. This should be an object lesson to all those who think that progress lies only through following liberal champions whose only strategy is to “work through the process” to gain significant reforms.

At the same time, not all labor withheld support. The local IBEW 46 pledged its support, as did the ATU international, as well as AFSCME union, WFSE Local 1488. Casa Latina, a labor-based latino community organization, was also strongly supportive.

The Seattle CIty Council: When the Mayor’s Committee released its final draft plan, it was concluded by the unions and their liberal allies that enough pro-business loopholes existed that the Council would simply pass it. Little did they understand the depths to which the Council would stoop to please their business constituents, and ignore the needs and aspirations of working class citizens they claim to represent.

The ensuing struggle in the City Council revealed two factions, openly pro-business, and liberals willing to surrender to the Mayor’s plan, with Sawant off to one side flaying the pro-business faction every chance she got. The liberals desperately wanted to go with the Mayor’s plan, and thought they had that in the bag, yet it was clear from the opening volley at the initial City Council meeting that this was not the case, despite their expectations. Once it was clear the business types had not signed on to the Mayor’s plan, Council members starting asking about a “training wage” for younger workers. One of the labor reps from the Mayor’s Committee said that it was off the table altogether, since the object was how to raise the wage, not lower it. That should have ended it, but didn’t. Instead, the Mayor intervened, apparently to take the political heat, and stuck it in, explaining it was just a small issue, and consistent with state laws governing the handicapped. Then Council President Sally Clark intervened late in the game, proposing a further four month delay in implementing any wage increase. When she was asked why, she thought that the possibility of a ballot measure would “cause too much confusion” among businesses. Nobody could parse this logic, but it stayed in anyway.

The meeting of the Council when they passed it was instructive. Kshama attempted to introduce several amendments to bring the measure back to what was first proposed by $15 Now – all were defeated by 8-1. Nick Licata tried to strip out the training wage, that also failed, but by a closer margin, as did a similar measure to strip out the additional delay. The end result was to take a flawed measure, make it worse, while simultaneously showing the difference between a principled socialist, the openly pro-business faction, and the more liberal members, like Licata. But what was really exposed is the weakness of the liberals in the face of concerted business influence. The lesson here is clear for many activists and citizens, and will hopefully result in more Sawant-type candidates in 2015, when all nine seats are up for election or re-election. This is the first election since the passage of a measure breaking up the at-large system for all nine, with seven of those seats in individual districts, and two at-large.

Socialist Alternative/$15 Now: Many organizations participated in this struggle, on their own, and in various coalitions with others, and all are to be commended for their work. But even the President of the City Council, Sally Clark, acknowledged that without Kshama Sawant and $15 Now, there would have not been the momentum that induced the City Council to pass the legislation they did.

A crucial advantage for this campaign was having Kshama present on the inside of the Council and the IIAC to denounce the various stratagems and the players behind them as they arose, while $15 Now maintained a strong independent public campaign on the outside that allowed activists to keep up the pressure on the politicians.

During the course of the campaign to raise the minimum wage, SA and $15Now were offered mountains of advice and some criticism as well on how to conduct the struggle. They were too radical, too sectarian, too controlling, too uncompromising, too inexperienced, and not inclusive enough. They were told they should follow the time-honored method of forming the widest possible coalition with every labor and liberal leader that would sit with them.

But though they participated in the “$15 for Seattle” labor coalition, they insisted on running $15 Now as a campaign, and one under the leadership of SA and a few close allies. They welcomed other activists with similar views to work with them on a democratic basis, and they went out of their way to get the widest possible participation of ordinary workers, students, and others. But they would not surrender the campaign to leadership from outside forces, no matter what their supposed size and prestige. And they were right.

Had they done so, the inevitable result would have been that their efforts, rather than gaining strength from the participation of other forces, would have been diluted. The leadership of the campaign would have had to spend time in useless meetings with people and organizations who had nothing to offer but negotiations with a Mayor and City Council on which pro-business compromise they should make, as indeed other political forces did. That in turn would have hindered their efforts, both politically and organizationally to mobilize participation in the struggle from the people of Seattle in general, and low-wage workers and students in particular.

In addition, $15 Now was called upon repeatedly to be able to move quickly and flexibly, both strategically and tactically, as the business sector and its politicians tried repeatedly to sow general confusion, use their alliances with politicians to weaken the measure, and conduct a propaganda campaign in the local conservative media. On top of this, while devoting the majority of their efforts to the local struggle, they had to at the same time do whatever they could to encourage the attempts by activists in other cities inspired by $15 Now to build their own minimum wage campaigns across the country. Having a cohesive leadership at the head of the struggle made both of those challenges manageable.

Lessons for the future... This is not to say that every move they made worked out as they planned – such is the nature of a real struggle. The goal to put into motion 30 neighborhood groups never grew to that degree, and they repeatedly struggled with how to turn general support from activists into ongoing work.

An early effort at mobilizing people through the annual Martin Luther King Day march backfired, precisely because the $15 Now participation in the march was large and highly visible. Not realizing there had been repeated attempts to hijack the annual event by white activists in past years trying to use it to recruit support for their pet cause, they were unprepared by the level of hostility they met from some MLK organizers during and after the event.

The struggle is not entirely over. Too many corporate loopholes remain. A national business group of franchisers is threatening a lawsuit. The enforcement provisions and structure of the new wage law are not yet in place, and will require separate legislation. The Council can always decide at a future date to weaken the provisions still further. And a plethora of other issues await, from affordable housing, regressive taxation, budget cuts for social services, homelessness, mass transit cuts awaits. Meanwhile, the struggle in other cities is building. But an example of successful struggle has been shown, and a victory has been achieved. Let us hope we can learn its lessons.

Tom Barnard was a volunteer in the $15 Now campaign. He is a long-time activist on social change issues. He works as a policy analyst in Seattle.
 http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/06/06/anatomy-of-a-minimum-wage-victory/

Do we want education to be turned into a fiasco and a racket like health care?

The dismantling of public education is taking place. As a result, education is turning into one big fiasco and racket just like the for-profit health care system.

Most people don't have an inkling of who these charter school operators are or what is taking place because the public has no input into the decision-making process because it is the Wall Street crowd in control of local, state and federal politics.

New Orleans no longer has a public school system. How did this escape debate?

So, who are these charter school "operators?"

Check out how these charter school operators actually "operate:

http://fortune.com/2014/06/02/chicago-charter-school-fraud/

It took a struggle to win public education; it will take a struggle to save public education from the Wall Street investors.

Do you want Bill Gates of Microsoft and the Wal-mart Walton Family dictating what your children will learn in school, and profit-making the purpose and aim of education?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/in-new-orleans-traditional-public-schools-close-for-good/2014/05/28/ae4f5724-e5de-11e3-8f90-73e071f3d637_story.html

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Minnesota Green Party takes stand for rights of workers employed in the Indian Gaming Industry...

The Green Party of Minnesota has made history by being the very first political party in the United States to recognize the plight of workers employed in the Indian Gaming Industry and to suggest a remedy to the injustices being experienced by the workers--- this is part of the new Platform of the Minnesota Green Party:

"2g. Greens support the re-opening of “Compacts” related to the Indian Gaming Industry and for the insertion of a clause that all state and federal labor laws protecting all other workers also apply to casino workers."

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Where is the "victory" for working people in Seattle... or Michigan or Minnesota with these so-called "Minimum Wage increases?"

Where is the "victory" here?

Is this something we want for every city, every state and federally?

The New York Times ignores the fact that the Leech Lake Indian Reservation has the highest PRESENT minimum wage in the United States of $10.25 an hour which is better than what workers in Seattle have at present.

This shows how Socialist Alternative and Sawant have played straight into the hands of the Democrats because they failed to fight for a Minimum Wage tied directly to actual cost-of-living factors.

By the time $15.00 kicks in, this will be one more sub-poverty wage for working people.

This is no "victory" in any way, shape or form--- at best, this is one big sick joke played on the working class by a phony "left" group and millionaire labor "leaders" who, for the most part, are overseeing concession contract after concession contract and many of these union "contracts" don't even provide workers with wages of $15.00 an hour.

There is no way that this can be portrayed as a way out of poverty for working people.

there has been no "victory" as a result of any kind of "struggle" here.

More aptly it should be called a very deceptive fiasco the working class has been saddled with from which it will be very difficult to extract itself.

Anyone who thinks $15.00 will amount to anything close to a living--- non-poverty--- wage by the time this takes effect is living in a fairy-tale world of the make believe.

Socialist Alternative has allowed itself to be used by not only the Democrats but the employers who will reap fantastic profits for years to come.

In fact, Michigan Republican Rick Snyder with his Republican super-majority and the Democrats with their super-majority have delivered better Minimum Wage "increases" which will provide workers with more purchasing power than this $15.00 fiasco ever will.

Those who fail to link wages to cost-of-living betray the working class every single time.

The working class is experiencing a "Cost-of-Living Crisis" that no one--- no economist, no labor "leader, no politician of any political persuasion--- can refute; the proof is in every shopping experience at the local grocery store, every time gas is pumped, every time an electric, heating or phone bill is paid, in home mortgages and rents, health insurance bill, college tuition paid.

Only muddle-headed, well-heeled middle-class intellectuals will be savoring this $15.00 Minimum Wage legislation as a "victory."

Inflation, never mind monopoly price-fixing, fueled by militarism and wars, alone, will more than eat up any "gain" made by the time this has been incrementally implemented. 

When it comes to wages there is only one thing workers are concerned about and this is what goods and services they can purchase with their actual take-home pay. This, combined with universal government programs and benefits received, are the only thing that matters when it comes to discussing "standard-of-living" which so many of these phony labor "leaders," politicians and economists are just as loathe to discuss as "cost-of-living" and this "Cost-of-Living Crisis" every single working class family--- bar none--- is living through and experiencing making life for working people so goddamn miserable--- something well-heeled middle-class intellectuals have no comprehension of because these people buy whatever they want, whenever they want with only some mild complaining which to them is part of the show they have to put on to keep up with the Jones... these are the people who will continue to support both the Democrats and Republicans--- these were the real "Reagan Democrats."

Working people need a new political party and it sure as hell isn't Socialist Alternative.

We need to be looking for building a new working class based progressive people's party for peace that will bring forward some kind of "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which understands how militarism and wars are fueling inflation and together with monopoly price-fixing and this massive working class creation of wealth workers are not even sharing in is creating this "Cost-of-Living Crisis" which results in a "Crisis of Everyday Living" for so many millions of working class families being shoved into poverty on a mass scale with the millions already mired deep in poverty getting buried in poverty with racism and discrimination against working class women resulting in the most cruel and anti-human aspects of poverty.

All of this is called, by Marxists, state monopoly capitalism in the era of imperialism--- imperialism, the highest stage of this moribund capitalism which has grown barbaric and cannibalistic, rotten and corrupt to the very core with immoral and unethical politics and government being the way of life with Wall Street lobbyists pulling the strings of the Democrats and Republicans and phony leftists willing to call this $15.00 in Seattle a "victory." 

We shall have to wait to see just what kind of "struggle" this Socialist Alternative will be asking us to join the next time around... You can bet it will be another dead-end alley into which the corporations will end up clobbering the workers. This always has been, and will continue to be, the way of the Trotskyites.

Let us be very clear:

A struggle for a living Minimum Wage is only a victory when workers can purchase more goods and services than they could before the increase.

The Minimum Wage increase the Leech Lake Tribal Council enacted in the here and the now of $10.25 was a real victory--- not so in Seattle, Michigan or Minnesota.

The Leech Lake Nation's Minimum Wage increase, as pathetically miserly as it is in comparison to the enormous profits generated by gaming, resulted in very real increased purchasing power for working class families. Can the same be said for Seattle's, Michigan's or Minnesota's Minimum Wage "increases" which will be incremental and the increased purchasing power lost? 
 
Alan L. Maki





Seattle Approves $15 Minimum Wage, Setting a New Standard for Big Cities
 
NYTimes.com -  - June 2, 2014
 
Mayor Ed Murray of Seattle, right, after the City Council approved a minimum wage that is more than double the federal
minimum. The $15 rate is the highest among the nation’s big cities. - Credit Ted S. Warren / Associated Press
SEATTLE - The City Council here went where no big-city lawmakers have gone before on Monday, raising the local minimum wage to $15 an hour, more than double the federal minimum, and pushing Seattle to the forefront of urban efforts to address income inequality.
The unanimous vote of the nine-member Council, after months of discussion by a committee of business and labor leaders convened by Mayor Ed Murray, will give low-wage workers here — in incremental stages, with different tracks for different sizes of business — the highest big-city minimum in the nation.
“Even before the Great Recession a lot of us have started to have doubt and concern about the basic economic promise that underpins economic life in the United States,” said Sally J. Clark, a Council member. “Today Seattle answers that challenge,” she added. “We go into uncharted, unevaluated territory.”
But some business owners who have questioned the proposal say that the city’s booming economy is creating an illusion of permanence. The fat times and the ability to pay higher wages, they warn, will not go on forever.
“We’re living in this bubble of Amazon, but that’s not going to go on,” said Tom Douglas, a prominent restaurateur in Seattle, referring to the local boom in jobs and economic growth from hiring at Amazon, the online retailer, which has its headquarters here. Mr. Douglas said the new law will inevitably result in costs being passed on to consumers. “There’s going to be some terrific price inflation,” he said.
The measure has the support of Mr. Murray, who ran last year on a pledge to raise the wage to $15 and made it one of his first priorities in office.
Cheers and jeers repeatedly erupted in the City Hall meeting room, which was packed with supporters of the plan, who often interrupted speakers in the 90-minute debate before the vote with chants.
“We did it — workers did this,” said Kshama Sawant, a socialist who campaigned for a $15 minimum wage when she was elected to the Council last year. Ms. Sawant sought to accelerate the carrying out of the measure and to strip out a lower youth wage training rate, but the council rejected her proposals.
The vote, economists and labor experts said, accentuates the patchwork in wages around the country, with places like Seattle — and other cities considering sharply higher minimum pay, including San Diego, Chicago and San Francisco — having economic outlooks increasingly distinct from those in other parts of the nation. Through much of the South, especially, the federal minimum of $7.25 holds fast.
Eight states plus the District of Columbia have already increased their minimum wages this year, the most to have done so in a single year since 2006, and at least eight other states and municipalities could put minimum wage ballot measures before voters by November. But it is the scale of ambition that is catching the attention of economists, labor leaders and business owners.
“In past rounds of minimum wage increases, proposals sought chiefly to restore the value of the minimum wage lost to inflation over the decades,” said Paul Sonn, the general counsel and program director at the National Employment Law Project, a New York-based group that supports raising the minimum wage. The increases in places like Seattle, Mr. Sonn said, go beyond playing catch-up. “The $15 proposals make real gains,” he said.
Economists who study the minimum wage are not sure of the effect of having sharply different levels — in some places, it is twice that of others. Though records are a bit uncertain, people who track minimum wage law say the range of mandated minimums, lowest to highest, is the largest it has been since a national minimum was established by Congress in 1938.
“Nobody has studied a doubling of the minimum wage — that’s outside our experience,” said Dale Belman, a professor of labor and industrial relations at Michigan State University and co-author of a coming book about the minimum wage.
Individual workers and business owners in and around Seattle are unsure of the implications. Washington State already has the highest state minimum wage in the nation, $9.32, but more than 24% of Seattle residents earn hourly wages of $15 or less, according to the city, and approximately 13.6% of Seattle residents live below the federal poverty level.
Under the plan approved on Monday, the hourly wage will rise to $15 by 2017 for employers with more than 500 workers that do not provide health insurance, and by 2018 for those large employers who do. The minimum will be phased in through 2021 for smaller employers.
In its early years, the law allows employers to include tips as part of a workers’ compensation in reaching the minimum, but that provision is phased out over time.
“The short-term side of it says it’s attractive,” said Mickey Adame, a bartender who works in Bellevue, Washington’s fifth-largest city, which is just outside Seattle, and the new $15 wage boundary. “But I think people in Seattle aren’t going to tip as much, knowing the servers are getting paid $15,” added Mr. Adame, who lives in Seattle and is trying to start a music record label called Sounder Music, for which his tip jar, he said, is crucial. “If I had to pick an answer, I would say I think I’ll make more in Bellevue.”
Ms. Sawant, in her comments to the Council and the crowd, did not take the tone of someone who was savoring a victory. The fight for workers’ rights and economic fairness, she said, is not over.
“We have fought to the last day, the last hour, against all the loopholes demanded by business,” she said. “The attempts of business to undermine $15 will continue,” she said, as would the battle to “turn the tide against corporate politics.”
She added: “$15 in Seattle is just a beginning. We have an entire world to win.”



-- 
Alan L. Maki
Director of Organizing,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council
 
58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763


Cell: 651-587-5541


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Anishinaabeg are an economic force in Bemidji


From Bemidji Pioneer...

Anishinaabeg are an economic force in Bemidji

By Curtis and Nicole Buckanaga on May 31, 2014 at 11:16 p.m.

Bemidji is losing its sense of community.

Bemidji has become an economic hub that thrives on the poverty of the Anishinaabeg.

This city is essentially taking advantage of social service programs, low-income subsidies and fines from Anishinaabeg that have been criminalized by poverty by discrimination.

Racist discrimination stimulates a large portion of Bemidji's economy.

Thousands of us working class Anishinaabeg spend our hard-earned money within this city; therefore, we need to be conscious and dignified and entertain a comprehensive boycott that identifies workforces of certain businesses that do not reflect the demography of Bemidji.

Bemidji is a city in denial of its normalized, systematic and institutional racism. The tides of apathy are receding that have been contrived by corrupt and oppressive state, local and tribal politicians who sit shiftlessly in elected positions and are fundamentally manipulating our downtrodden, traumatized people.

We Anishinaabeg are an economic force here; therefore, we need to assert ourselves to achieve the quality of life we struggle for against the absurdities of racism and ignorance every day as we live and shop here in Bemidji.

We don't have to spend our money where they won't hire us, or even where they don't treat us with respect.

We should hit them in their pockets and support those businesses that do respect us as human beings.

Due to the three largest Ojibwe nations in this state surrounding the city of Bemidji, as well as the numerous Anishinaabeg who travel here to seek work and a better quality of life, Bemidji is a highly populated with us Anishinaabeg. Not to mention the thousands of surrounding reservation residents who venture into the city every day for goods and services only to witness that we are not equitably integrated into the workforce.

It is only reasonable that our people occupy one job for every four jobs here in Bemidji.

Why? Because we need jobs, too. We deserve a decent quality of life, too. We deserve a chance and opportunity, too.

After all, Bemidji is historically an indigenous community.

We shared this community with our white counterparts, taught them how to live off this land and shared our languages. We, Anishinaabeg, need to support one another to reclaim our dignity and our identity within our community here in Bemidji because to us, this is still our Bemichiigamaag, our home; where we need stand together to assert our right to living wage jobs.

Curtis and Nicole Buckanaga

Bemidji


http://www.bemidjipioneer.com/content/anishinaabeg-are-economic-force-bemidji